Our profession is full of myths, superstitions and false beliefs, such as not wearing a seat belt because it slows down the reaction, using the escort car always in the back or considering that the gun magically solves all problems, etc. Another of these myths is to never enter a subway parking lot because the vehicles should always remain on the street for a quick evacuation without being stopped by the pay booms.
Although it appears to be straight out of an executive protection manual from the 1980s, this fallacy contains a valid principle: always have a means of escape nearby and unobstructed. However, wrongly applied, this concept creates far greater risks than it is intended to mitigate.
Having the main vehicle at hand is an operating condition that is always desirable but rarely feasible in our daily operating conditions, due to the fact that executives move in crowded areas of high purchasing power where keeping vehicles in specific locations is a challenge, in addition, the possibility of the vehicle being fined or immobilized is always very high.
But even assuming the unit is relatively close to the exit, having the vehicle on the street unintentionally creates a "seam". The "seams" are the exposures to the highest risk environment in the arrivals and departures between the property and the vehicle, where the greatest number of murders, robberies, kidnappings and assassinations have occurred over the decades; from the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan in 1981 to the assassination of Mexican businessman Martin Rodriguez in 2021. For this reason, the "seams" are considered the most critical points in the operation of executive protection and represent the greatest concern for specialists, so we always seek to eliminate them, that is, that the executive enters and exits the vehicle in a controlled environment, without being exposed to the risks posed by the street. This often means using the parking lot.
Of course, buildings, offices, convention centers and shopping malls are not exempt from risks; different types of incidents and crimes have also occurred within them. However, and in general, these places have various security measures in place, which often include armed personnel who, therefore, become a force multiplier and a deterrent factor that plays in favor of the protection team. These conditions can also make it difficult for criminals to escape, which is one of their main concerns.
This is why incidents at these locations occur much less frequently than at "the seams".
This is the reason why specialists try to have the vehicle as close as possible to the executive, inside the facilities, for a quick exit without the ascent generating exposure to the street. At the same time, while waiting, there is no risk of the vehicle being immobilized by the traffic authorities, which often happens on the street.
On the other hand, the problem that booms can generate (many are already automatic and do not involve a high mandatory) is much less being inside an armored vehicle than the exposure involved in going out on foot to "the seam". Also, realistically, it is hard to believe that in a life or death case the lead vehicle is going to stop to pay for parking when it is time for an emergency evacuation.
Thus, we see that the principle of having the vehicles close to the executive for a quick evacuation can be maintained without the need to keep them on the street, generating the enormous risk that "the seam" implies. What good did it do businessman Martin Rodriguez to have the vehicle on the street "ready for a quick exit" when he was killed when he stepped on the avenue before he could get into it?
Now, it is important to clarify that in executive protection there are no recipes or general rules to be followed always and in all cases. Before deciding whether or not to put the vehicle in a parking lot, it is necessary to carry out the review process and the previous study that I described in detail in the book Executive Protection in the 21st Century: The New Doctrine. In this brief article I just wanted to point out one more myth, to make our profession safer for both protectees and protectors.